Enterprise: Physics Today's newest online department

Charles Day

The transistors, lasers and fiber optic cables that drive modern economies were invented by physicists decades ago. What are the next revolutionary technologies to come from research labs? What companies will bring them to market?

Answers to those and other questions about the role of physics and physicists in the private sector already appear in the pages of Physics Today, but irregularly and spread among several editorial departments. Now Physics Today has a new online department, Enterprise, which greatly expands the magazine's industrial coverage.

Why have a department devoted to private-sector physics? Physics Today’s prime directive has always been to unite the diverse community of physicists and their close professional relatives by providing news stories, feature articles and other editorial content that interest all members of the community. New departments, in print and online, must heed that directive. Given its breadth and importance, physics-related activities in the private sector more than qualify for additional, dedicated coverage.

What’s more, we already know that such coverage is popular with readers. The Industrial Physicist, which AIP published from 1995 to 2004, was not financially viable, but it was an editorial success. The so-called hidden physicists who subscribed to the magazine are still among us, as are their younger counterparts who never had the chance to subscribe. Both groups can be reached online.

Although Enterprise runs the occasional opinion piece, the editorial heart of the department consists of original, freelance-written news stories that appear 2-3 times a month. The stories' scope is broad. Expect to see a report about technologies based on zinc oxide nanowires, an interview with the CEO of a major physics-based company, a profile of a new start-up, or a description of new tax R&D incentives in China.

Coverage goes beyond factory-scale industrial physics to encompass software, services and other commercial sectors. The so-called physics engines that make realistic animation possible fall within Enterprise’s editorial territory, as do businesses that conduct physics-based consulting. A story about a two-person startup's first product could run alongside a story about a multinational conglomerate's latest acquisition.

You can read Enterprise articles in Physics Today's daily edition.

Charles Day is Physics Today's online editor. He welcomes ideas for Enterprise stories from FIAP members. He can be reached at cday@aip.org.

Opinions expressed represent the views of the individual authors and not the American Physical Society or authors’ employers.